In the nineteenth century, the term “poetess” was typically a conventional compliment to, or acknowledgement of, any female poet's femininity. During the twentieth century it became more often a label of contempt and condescension. In the twenty-first century, the word “poetess” has taken on an objective literary meaning for the first time. It has been revived to delineate a specific poetic tradition in which many women poets, and some men, have taken part. This poetic tradition involves particular techniques and strategies that are markedly different from those of the romantic and postromantic poetic traditions. In this essay, the term “sentimentism” refers to the poetic techniques and conventions developed by the poetesses, in order to clearly distinguish their methods and aims from those of poetic romanticism.Less
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